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This is one of few Zambian national park under private management and as a result is entirely dependant on tourists and donations. Kasanka National Park is a valuable conservation area protecting species such as the sitatunga and many species of birds, as well as the huge flocks of straw coloured fruit bats which fly out at dusk during November and December (read more about our Bat migration safari )
This movement of up to 10 million bats is the greatest known migration of mammals on earth! The bats set out at sunset (as indeed they do on Ngamba Island in Uganda), and return at dawn. So many bats fill the sky, its difficult to know which direction to look in!
Being part of the Congo Basin, the area ecologically is in between the dryer well-known safari destinations in eastern and southern Africa and the rainforests of central Africa. There is an enormous diversity in habitats, including rainforest, papyrus swamp, wet grassland, plains, forested rivers and miombo woodland. Puku occur in big numbers and the park has the densest and most visible population of Sitatunga. Elephant, sable, hartebeest, black lechwe and a wide range of other mammals are often seen as well in smaller numbers. With 440 species observed so far, the park is a prime birding destination. Frequently observed species include Wattled Crane, Pel’s fishing owl, African Finfoot, Ross’s and Schalow’s Turaco, Anchieta’s Sunbird and Bohms Bee-eater. Activities take place on canoe, motorboat, on foot, by vehicle or by bicycle!
The tree hide at “Fibwe” is perched 18 metres high, in a huge red mahogane tree, so it needs agile visitors to get up to it; but once on the platform it gives a panoramic view of the Kapabi swamps. The record sighting of sitatunga from the platform is 94! Several other treehides are present in the bat roosting area in the mysterious mushitu rain forest, an amazing place even when the bats are not present.
Although Kasanka is most well-known for the bats, a visit to this park is highly recommended during any time of the year. Anyone who wishes to visit this park, celebrates a diversity and scenic beauty of the swamps, grassplains and forest of the park. Outside of bat season, there are very few visitors which makes a visit an exclusive and enjoyable experience. You are guaranteed to see Sitatunga and several other mammal species, as well as an enormous variety of birds and other animals. Livingstone’s Grave is easily reachable from Kasanka and could also be included in a safari to this area.
From Kasanka, visits to the amazing Bangweulu Swamps and Lavushi Manda NP can easily be arranged. Bangwelu is one of the biggest marsh areas of Africa and a true paradise. Kasanka Trust runs Shoebill Camp here. The rare shoebill is seen almost daily from March to August, when most of the area is flooded, but is seen less frequently the rest of the year. More than hundred thousand of the endemic Black Lechwe, thousands of tsessebee, zebra, oribi and buffalo graze on the plains, being stalked by hyena at night. Hundreds of wattled cranes, Denhams bustard and many other birds are seen in between the mammals. An enormous diversity of waterbirds is seen along the river channels dotted with water lilies and meters tall papyrus.
Lavushi Manda is a vast wilderness area. A dramatic 40km long rock formation is surrounded by endless miombo woodland and wet dambo plains. Kasanka Trust recently started working on the restoration of the area and it is hoped that the depleted animal populations will soon recover. The area is ideal for bush camping and exploration on foot (see mobile safaris).